What Surprising Secret Do Katy Perry, Niall Horan, and Harrison Ford Have in Common?

Do you dread getting up in front of others? Unfortunately, performance anxiety can exact a huge toll on self-confidence and self-esteem. If you have stage fright, you’re in good company. Some of the most popular performers also suffer from anxiety on stage. Here are 8 celebrities who have overcome their nerves. 

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #249

May 3rd is National Anxiety Disorder Screening Day.

Most of my clients feel a degree of apprehension when preparing to speak or perform in front of a group of people. However, for some people, the feelings of anxiety or panic are significant enough to impact their careers.  How do you feel just before an important performance? .


Do you dread getting up in front of others? Does your heart beat a bit faster? Does your mouth go dry? Does your voice or hands tremble?    

It's likely you are experiencing speaker’s anxiety or more generally performance anxiety (sometimes more commonly referred to as stage fright). Unfortunatley, performance anxiety can exact a huge toll on self-confidence and self-esteem. People experience symptoms ranging from stomach butterflies, to throwing up, to full on panic attacks. Afflicted individuals sometimes even leave school or a job or pass up a promotion to avoid being in the anxiety-provoking situation. Popular celebrities have even left the spotlight for good because of severe anxiety or stage fright.  

If you get stage fright, you’re in good company. Did you know that stars like Katy Perry, Adele, and Harrison Ford also suffer from stage fright?

Don't believe me? Here's how 8 popular performers describe their anxiety:

1.     Katy Perry.  She appears poised, confident, and professional on stage, but Katy Perry says she suffers from stage fright. "I still feel nervous performing to crowds.” Said Perry in a 2010 BBC radio interview.  “It's not that I don't feel ready but I worry that they'll rush the stage as they're all screaming my name or I feel like I wanna yack!"

2.     Niall Horan.  One Direction band members are favorites of tweens all over the world. Last year Niall Horan told a reporter that he’s claustrophobic and often feels anxious when he interacts with a large crowd.

3.     Harrison Ford.  The star of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, and many other blockbuster movies may be comfortable in front of a camera, but speaking in front of a group is a different story. He admits to anxiety whenever he’s asked to speak in public. It’s been reported that he even feels anxiety when one of the characters he’s playing gives a speech!

4.     Adele.   Multiple Grammy winner Adele suffers from extreme stage fright. Before a show she reportedly experiences sleepless nights, vomiting, and other symptoms.  Adele has sought professional help, including hypnotherapy, to help ease her anxiety.

5.     Thomas Jefferson.   Some historians believe that Thomas Jefferson suffered from social anxiety and stage fright. It affected his legal career and prevented him from speaking at the 2nd Continental Congress.

6.     Hugh Grant.   Long-time film star Hugh Grant has reportedly considered retiring from acting many times. He told The Atlantic, “I had all these panic attacks.” “They’re awful. I freeze like a rabbit. Can’t speak, can’t think, sweating like a bull. When I got home from doing that job, I said to myself: ‘No more acting. End of films.’ ”

7.     Barbra Streisand.  Way back in 1976, Barbra Streisand forgot the lyrics to a song during a performance in Central Park. From that point on, she experienced extreme stage fright and used a teleprompter when performing.

8.     Rod Stewart.   You’d never know it now, but when Rod Stewart first started out he suffered from stage fright. He even stood behind a set of speakers during a concert in 1968 to avoid facing his audience.

To be clear, stage fright is not just for the young and inexperienced. Well-known sports psychologist Dr. Paul Dennis says stage fright can hit veteran performers at the peak of their career.  In an article in The Star he was quoted as saying:

“Quite often it’s a result of them overthinking the situation. They view it as a pressure situation: a threat to their personal well-being, to their ego. They don’t want to make a mistake, and all these thoughts could lead to a downward spiral and cause them to be absolutely frozen prior to the event.”

The primary reason I wrote this article during National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week is to let you know that you if you experience speaker’s or performance anxiety, you are not alone and you don’t have to keep it a secret.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.